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Less Than 5 Percent of Military Votes Count, Experts Say

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Voting, one of the most sacredly held rights of the American people, is often denied to service members who are away from home at election time and it seems there are a number of reasons. Even though there have been some changes made to electoral law that certainly help, some election experts don’t believe they go far enough to stop the disenfranchisement of military voters.

“The predominate issue surrounding military votes are the disenfranchisement of military members,” said Michael James Barton, an election judge who has also served as a roving election observer over four states. “In essence, 45 days is required to enable military to vote, but clerks of court all around the nation will send out absentee applications or absentee ballots after the deadline is passed — all but ensuring that the ballot will arrive after election day.”

According to the 2009 Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE), states are required to not only mail absentee ballots to all military voters at least 45 days before a federal election, but they are also required to provide electronic delivery options for election materials, and to eliminate the notary requirement for absentee ballots.

The MOVE Act also requires the Department of Justice (DoJ) to provide implementation assistance to states and to work with the Department of Defense (DoD) to implement the law as well as laying out specific requirements of the defense department. In particular, it required the DoD to return all overseas military ballots via express mail and to create voter registration agencies on every military installation across the globe. These changes would maximize opportunities for service members to exercise their voting rights. The MOVE Act further specified that all changes had to be completed by the November 2010 election.

So did it work? Experts say yes and no. According to the Military Voter Protection Project (MVPP), the changes helped but they didn’t go far enough. Their report in 2010 found that fewer members voted and that many states were still not complying with the 45 day requirement for ballots, something they estimate left 65,000 military voters out in the cold.

“24 states participated in the report, which showed that of 300,000 plus absentee ballots requested by military personnel, less than a third were counted in the election,” said Barton.

“Keep in mind that military absentee ballot requests were down in the 2012 election, confirming what I had been hearing when I was at the Pentagon from front line commanding officers; people don’t think their votes are going to be counted, so why bother?”

Barton raises an interesting question; will those individual votes matter? The truth is that they might, but then again they might not. Individual votes count at the state level and then the members of the electoral college from that state cast their ballots.

In some states, the popular vote directly determines who the electors vote for, and in other states electors can cast their vote for whomever they choose. This happened in 2000 in Florida, when Al Gore won the popular vote, but the electoral votes from the state went to George Bush.

According to the MVPP, just 4.6 percent of the nearly 2 million eligible military voters cast a ballot in 2010 that counted, well below the 15.8 percent who requested ballots. This is significant because even though a member casts a ballot, there is no guarantee that the ballot will count.

Slow postal service, arcane election rules at the state or local level, and court delays mean many ballots that were cast in good faith won’t be counted. In New York, for example, in the 2010 election, nearly a third of ballots didn’t count.

The MVPP addresses this problem by suggesting the use of more electronic options, such as email ballots or secure online voting. These have the potential to make a huge difference in the disenfranchisement of military voters, but implementing them could carry a hefty price tag.

Barton says it’s shameful that our men in women in uniform are so often unable to exercise one of the most important rights that they have pledged  to defend. ” The people protecting us deserve better, and if anyone’s vote should count its theirs,” he said.

Join the discussion Please be relevant and respectful.

The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.


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85 comments
Dan Ames
Dan Ames

It's not just their votes that are taken from them, they also have no rights/freedoms either. They are suppose to be fighting, and willing to die for them, yet are denied them. When you as a soldier cannot even make the simple decision not to kill someone you feel isn't a threat, or report crimes that are being committed, than what kind of freedom are you fighting for?

Conrad Gosciminski
Conrad Gosciminski

ID's need to be required to vote. We need them for nearly everything we do and if you are not smart enough to get a legal photo identification then you should not be able to get any government welfare program or assistance.

Conrad Gosciminski
Conrad Gosciminski

Your right, we had and I am sure we still have today. In 2008 remember the bus loads of out of state voters in Ohio and in other states a number of votes showed up after the tallies and they were one party's candidate. Those votes changed the election around. To your point in 2012 more people voted in some Florida districts than were registered there, no charges or actions taken. As a young man I remember that in many larger voting districts the old voting machines were fix to cast votes for a particular candidate no matter who you selected. It is a fight that we been trying to win, but no matter what we do there is someone who is going to find a way around the checks and balances to change the results in their favor. We can't even keep hackers out of our Defense Department.

Jeff Mullen
Jeff Mullen

YET ANOTHER TIME: This vote fraud crap is all just a distraction to keep people from investigating the tabulators. In Bush-Gore, the vote tablulations didn't agree with the exit polls, so the lapdog press just went along and said that the exit polls have to be wrong. It was so much easier than admitting that it's possible to hack the tabulators. Remember: in the kind of retail vote fraud YOU'RE talking about, you get a few hundred votes tops; in the kind of wholesale vote fraud I'm talking about, you get THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of vote flips and no one is any the wiser. So why is no one bothering to ask if the tabulators are being hacked? In case you haven't kept up with Black Box Voting, it's QUITE feasible. So why all this talk about retail vote fraud while you're ignoring the possibility of wholesale vote fraud?

Marty Ragan
Marty Ragan

The last election the military ballots kept getting mis-directed with some of the boxes landing in the ocean! Then...after a nice long rest the pilots got to fly the ballots over here...only to be rejected because they were 'LATE'! (In our state they were counted according to the Governors Office!) Too bad more didn't know about it...they could have called their Gov's too!

Deborah Holloway
Deborah Holloway

It is so sad that our military works for this great Country and can't vote,have three meals a day,who is put into disability and can't get help. And even death and the familys can't get the help that they are entitled to because of a childish tantrum. This is America not a country that has no rights of any kind.We stand up for what is just and right we defend the weak.Just what has happened to this great Country we live in what is the point of being over seas working when we are broadsided right here in the good USA????????????? We have got to make thing right here and now.It isn't fare to our people to have to go through such childish nonsense they aren't God and no one has put them into being god.And the 2 amendments I stand firm on this I also believe that the Pledge Allegiance to God and Country and if they can't or want do this then they can get out of our Country. This is what I fill and believe I grew up with the Bible being read in School and The Pledge Allegiance to God And Country and it should stay this way.   

  

Sally Sarina
Sally Sarina

Absolutely no reason for this. As an election clerk, and now poll worker, their votes should be counted ASAP after being voted.

Ella Fields
Ella Fields

That was Obama's fault. He made it hard for the military to get o vote. He as a candidate should have no say in keeping the Military from voting . They Should have first priority in the election because there fighting for our freedom and Just for all. He falls head over heals throwing his authority around.

Kathy Jones
Kathy Jones

I think only 5% of any of our votes were counted, I didn't vote for the man in office, and I have not had one person I have asked say they voted for him, so how in the hell did he get in,,,, only one way voter fraud....... shame on all who allowed this to happen...

Brian Uhler
Brian Uhler

Our soldiers speak the truth and that is why their votes are not being counted.The popular vote is ignored.

Deanna Leemhuis
Deanna Leemhuis

This is wrong, since when can't they vote? If they can't protect us, then they can vote...

Robert M Harman
Robert M Harman

It would be interesting to get a vote today from all military personnel on Obama.This would have to be done by a neutral country to get the true results.Obama has turned his back on these solders.Include vets in this also.I bet Obama would not allow this.Have a country like Sweden or Denmark do this and announce the results before Obama could tamper with them.

Jacqueline Lynn
Jacqueline Lynn

If our Militaries votes are not counted NOT one single ILLEGAL ALIEN should ever get near a ballot! Un like the last few elections!

Marge Bramschreiber
Marge Bramschreiber

Agreed. There is absolutely no excuse for this. Other than corruption.

Rhonda Johnson-Kidwell
Rhonda Johnson-Kidwell

It is so wrong that the men and women that protect us don't have the right to vote!!!!

Carol Irwin
Carol Irwin

This is DISPICABLE, We need change NOW!!!!

Penelope Butera
Penelope Butera

THIS is disgusting - if anyone deserved a vote, it's our military!

Wayne McKnight
Wayne McKnight

Mail in ballots from the Military are considered to be "provsional votes"

Eric Roth
Eric Roth

I fully agree, but it's this way to prevent the Democrat Party from being voted out of existence.

Johnnie Simpson
Johnnie Simpson

If they had counted their votes Obama would have lost.Why do you think Obama fought so hard to keep their votes from counting?Almost 75% of servicemen were going to vote against Obama!

Ryan Rebecca Schneider
Ryan Rebecca Schneider

I agree, but the establishment likes it that way. If military votes had counted, Ron Paul would be our President now... The military overwhelmingly supported him over all other candidates.

Andy Parsons
Andy Parsons

The gov is broken they need to be voted out and make term limits.

Glenn Henault
Glenn Henault

Completely agree. And from what I have read the current administration is trying to reduce it even more

G Bud Budlong
G Bud Budlong

There has not been any significent voter fraud in this nation in decades and NO illegals voting anywhere. It is scare/fear mongering for ignorant sheeple that believe anything and fact check nothing.

La'Dene Bean
La'Dene Bean

Voter Fraud that was proven was committed by the Republican Party. You are a woefully ignorant or uninformed

G Bud Budlong
G Bud Budlong

In TX last election only 11.9% of registered voters voted. That is what the GOP wants. It is their only chance to ever be elected into any office. They are outnumbered by 4-1 by progressive/liberal thinking citizens. SO all this voter ID and voter fraud bs is just to discourage any voting. This is how seditious criminals and blithering idiots get elected in TX....real smart people staying home and letting brain dead imbeciles vote in guys like Ted Cruz and Louie Gohmert

Janet Lynn
Janet Lynn

If they counted Obummer would not be president

Shawn M Griffiths
Shawn M Griffiths

It is just sad that the people who have sacrificed so much for this country are not guaranteed a meaningful vote... or a vote period. If anyone has earned it, it is them.

Sarah Levy
Sarah Levy

Totally agree. I really don't know how that works in war zones, but when my ex and I were stationed overseas, I voted via absentee ballot.

Dale Manning
Dale Manning

Election results alone with the illegals should have been an adequate deterrent because of the popular vote. Everyone hated Romney and Gary Johnson never was given time. The rest were scattered after the 2 front runners Gingrich and Ron Paul divided.

Rich Dyer
Rich Dyer

The only voter fraud found was committed by the republican party.